Although cigarette smoking has declined over the past few years, there’s still a significant number of people using tobacco products today. In fact, studies revealed that 47.1 million US adults reportedly used tobacco products such as cigarettes in 2020. This shows how cigarette smoking is still prevalent in the country despite the increasing public health warnings against tobacco use.
One of the groups of people who are still using tobacco cigarettes is vegans. In an NCBI journal on nutritional status and habits among vegans, it was revealed that cigarette smoking behaviors were highest among vegans compared to other diet groups. This is despite the fact that many are unsure about whether cigarettes are vegan or not.
Since cigarettes are known to be made simply from a plant called nicotiana tabacum, some vegans may be quick to dismiss the dangers of tobacco use. But what if we tell you that, in some ways, cigarettes are not actually vegan-friendly?
Are Cigarettes Vegan?
The quick answer is no. Even if most cigarettes are plant based cigarettes, the way they’re processed, manufactured, and tested makes tobacco cigarettes antithetical to the practice of veganism.
Cigarettes Contain Animal Ingredients
Although they’re not the main ingredient, cigarettes contain additives from animal sources. For example, tobacco manufacturers use an ingredient derived from the castor sacs of mature male beavers called castoreum to make cigarettes more aromatic and appealing. Because of this, beavers are cruelly raised in captivity and bred for this purpose by most manufacturers.
Another animal-derived element found in cigarettes is honey. Like castoreum, honey is added to cigarettes to give tobacco products a smoother and sweeter taste. But to obtain these ingredients for cigarettes, companies also have to keep honey bees in captivity.
In addition to these components, manufacturers use beeswax to seal the cigarette paper together and pig’s blood to create cigarette filters. So since the production of cigarettes is built on animal cruelty and exploitation, smoking commercial cigarettes as a vegan goes against what the practice aims to promote.
Cigarettes Are Tested On Animals
Apart from using animal-derived products, tobacco companies also test the effects of cigarette smoke on different animals. In an article on animal testing in the tobacco industry from World Animals Voice, they discussed how animals are forced to inhale cigarette smoke continuously for up to six hours a day. Animals like dogs are forcibly hooked up to respirators, while rats are squeezed into narrow containers where they cannot move.
What’s worse is that they will be killed later on to be examined in laboratories and assess the impacts of the smoke. In some cases, these animals slowly end up suffering from the detrimental effects of smoke until their body can no longer keep them alive. Because of this unjust practice, many have already petitioned tobacco companies to stop animal testing.
However, there are still some countries where the ban on animal testing on tobacco products is still yet to be approved. Understandably, now that you know how cigarettes affect animals, you might be thinking about dropping the habit if you’re a vegan smoker. Not only ciggarettes are tested on animals but many brands in beauty and skincare industry seem to vegan-friendly by ingredients but many of them are tested on animals which is against veganism.
Tips To Quit Smoking Easily
1. Avoid smoking triggers
You’re more likely to trigger your tobacco urges if you’re in a place where cigarette smoking is rampant. This can be at parties you visit with friends or designated smoking areas in your workplace. That’s why if you want to quit smoking naturally, you must avoid these places so you won’t get encouraged to use cigarettes again.
If you regularly go for a smoke during breaks at work, try to change that routine by going to your office’s cafeteria or lounge instead. Since smoking is prohibited indoors, you won’t be tempted to light a cigarette. It’s also best to avoid people you know who are heavy smokers (at least for the time being) since the smell of smoke and tobacco may induce you to use cigarettes.
By avoiding your triggers, you’ll find that your cravings are reduced, and you’re no longer bound by the smoking conventions you’re used to.
2. Try Relaxation Techniques
For many smokers, cigarettes are a form of relieving stress. Consequently, smoking becomes an emotional crutch. Try adopting other relaxation techniques to break this dependence on cigarettes as a means of relaxation. For instance, practices like meditation and yoga can help you deal with stress by soothing you.
At the same time, mindfulness apps like Calm can also help you center yourself before you feel the need to reach for a cigarette. If you develop better coping mechanisms for stress, you can stop relying on cigarettes during tough times. Over time, you’ll find that cigarettes no longer hold the same mental and emotional benefits that they used to.
3. Use Nicotine Replacement Therapies
Thanks to medical innovations, nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like nicotine pouches, gums, and lozenges can help you quit smoking. With these interventions, you can gradually stop being dependent on cigarettes while avoiding the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation. What’s also great about NRTs is that there are a number of vegan and cruelty-free options.
This is because some NRT products do not use any animals or animal byproducts. To elaborate, a recent Prilla article on where nicotine comes from shared that some of the nicotine included in the pouches is made synthetically. This means they’re manufactured in laboratories using chemical compounds that do not include tobacco or animal products.
At the same time, some brands like Zyn use vegan plant base fibers, so the construction of each pouch is also vegan-friendly. Ultimately, this means you can safely use an NRT product to wean off cigarettes without compromising your veganism.
4. Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
Another vegan-friendly method to stop smoking is eating more fruits and vegetables. Reports from Have A Plant on smoking cessation showed that smokers who ate the more fruits and vegetables were three times more likely to stay smoke-free for 30 days.
This is because experts believe that food such as zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers can worsen the taste of cigarettes, discouraging you from smoking. The good news is that a vegan diet like the alkaline vegan plan already promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.This includes an emphasis on the veggies mentioned above.
Since a vegan lifestyle already encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables, it’s easier for you to apply this method to help you quit smoking.
To summarize, smoking tobacco cigarettes is not vegan-friendly. Although they’re mainly plant-based, the additional ingredients and testing process of tobacco companies exploit the lives of animals, which is not aligned with the vegan philosophy.
That’s why if you want to practice a vegan lifestyle, it’s necessary to avoid and stop smoking cigarettes as a whole. While quitting cigarettes is never easy, through consistency and hard work, even long-time smokers can kick the habit. Hopefully, the tips we shared in the article can help you achieve this goal and have a healthier lifestyle.